STORY

The first time or ever heard of or saw the Beatles I was in The Iron Door in Temple Street (now sadly demolished, nearly as much a Mecca as The Cavern). It was a Saturday afternoon, some time in 1960. I was fifteen years old and at that time not sure if I was a Rocker or a Hippy. I used to wear dead tight jeans and a combat jacket, trying to look cool. The combat jacket had been my winter cycling jacket during the early sixties when I was a keen cyclist until I discovered Brown Bitter and Chicks, at which time I had the jacket dyed from Olive to navy blue and I sold my bike for the princely sum of £15. During the school holidays, when my mate's mum was at work, we would use her sewing machine to re-tailor my jeans. On some occasions, when our tailoring skills failed miserably, I had to be cut out with the bread knife and we had to start again. I was besotted with a girl from Anfield who shall be nameless and on one occasion took her to The Iron Door on a Saturday afternoon to see the resident band called The Ravens (whatever happened to them?) at the end of the session, say about 5 pm there would be a jam session on stage with the likes of Gerry Marsden and Rory Storm on stage joining in the rock session for ROCK AND ROLL WAS WHERE IT WAS AT !. One Saturday afternoon at the Door my old school buddy Tony Larkin (hope he doesn't mind a name check) said to me "There's the Beatles over there ". I didn't have a clue who they were. It was the first time I had ever heard the word Beatles uttered. They certainly looked cool enough to me - they all wore those blouson jackets with a scandinavian snowdrop pattern and Lee denim jeans which I still wear (but not the actual jeans worn by Paul). They were grouped some yards away in a corner chatting amongst themselves and probably checking out the opposition. Some weeks later I heard my Anfield Goddess had started to attend the Cavern and I promptly resumed the hunt. Lunchtime Cavern sessions were held from 12pm till 2pm and top bands of the time, like Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Big Three and Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes played there. Now I ought to say at this point that I attended secondary school with Tony Larkin and he went to primary school with Gerry Marsden so Gerry was as good as my best mate ! After all he'd seen me with Tony at the Iron Door. I resolved to join the Cavern and one midweek lunchtime, which I think must have been during the summer school holidays, I started haunting the club doorway (no bouncers were on the door in those early days) about 11:50 with a view to soliciting an entrance. After a few minutes, who should come wandering down Mathew Street but my best mate, Gerry! Now anybody who has ever met me and especially my old crowd, The Townsend Boys, would subscribe to the idea that I am, or ever was, a shrinking violet (little bit of an ego trip there!). I sailed straight in 'take one in Gerry?', 'Sure, no problem' and we were down the stairs and he signed me in to that wonderful world of Beat Music and smells of fresh vegetables and in some cases, blocked drains. I can still remember the buzz I got when I was able to join, once you were signed In you could join for the grand total of 1/6d in real money, 15p to us now. Worth every farthing!. I never did come across The Anfield Goddess in this particular venue and she faded from the memory banks, but the next few years were memorable for all the bands and hard driving music which they unleashed. Back to the Beatles!. When I was sixteen I left school and secured a job in Mount Pleasant and was able to attend those lunchtime sessions regularly. Since having seen the Beatles some months earlier in the Iron Door I had not actually seen them perform onstage. I now know they did their first trip to Hamburg in August 1960 so they were off the local radar for a while. Now I know the next bit of this little memoir is going to sound corny but it is true. One day, later in that year, for some obscure reason I arrived late at the Cavern, about 1:50pm and the gig finished at 2pm. I descended the stairs to hear this amazingly loud band with a driving beat and great harmonies. I was intrigued to as to who they were but before I could set eyes on them my glasses misted up coming into the heat of the 'Best of Cellars'. I propelled myself through the crowd towards the music and as I neared the stage my lenses cleared slowly and I once again laid eyes on The Beatles appearing through the mist as if in a vision. They only did a few more numbers before the session finished but I was hooked!. I saw the Fab Four on a number of occasions after that and with my girl friend (now my wife) saw them onstage at The Empire when they supported Roy Orbison on his first British tour. The lads had just broken into the charts with Please Please me and, as they were playing their home town, The Big O allowed them to play the second spot which, of course, is reserved for the top of the bill act. The final occasion we were lucky (or unlucky some might say) to see them was once again at the Empire, however, they had become the biggest thing to hit music since Elvis and Beatlemania was the order of the day. We were surrounded by howling fans. Sadly we resolved that there was no point in going to see our favourite band in the future as we went to LISTEN to them, not scream at them. Indeed, The Beatles themselves come to this conclusion some years later and stopped doing public performances. They retired to the studio to write brilliant innovative music that will live forever, just like the masters of Classical music live on . It's hard to believe that John and George are no longer with us, having died relatively young. At least Paul gets back here regularly and set up the LIPA institute some years ago. And ……..who was that other lucky journeyman musician who played with them? Another corny phrase 'Happy Days' comes to mind, but so true. We were very lucky to live through and be part of "The Merseybeat Era" and also live with the heritage it has left. By the way, original Cavern membership cards sell for about £600 - Now where did I put mine?.



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By AnfieldbRed AnfieldbRed


This story was added on 2nd May 2011

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